John Cal McCormick
- Final Fantasy IX
- Persona 4 Golden
- Mass Effect 2
F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch is a stellar Metroidvania adventure set in a beautifully realised world, replete with challenging combat encounters, rewarding exploration, and some spicy platforming action. Rayton Rabbit might be of diminutive stature, but he's punching well above his weight here in what is one of the best games of 2021 so far.
The mostly laid-back soundtrack and lack of NPCs lends Golf Club Wasteland a chill, lonely atmosphere, which helps to offset some of the more frustrating holes, and the short three or four hour play-time means it never has a chance to outstay its welcome. It's official: Golf Club Wasteland is the best post-apocalyptic golf game on PS4.
The story is slight, and possessed Dad – Jim Carver from The Bill for the 30-somethings among you – is more amusing than scary. The constraints of filming during a pandemic are clear – no two people are ever in the same room at the same time – and in terms of production values it's more school play than Hollywood. But Julie Dray is a sympathetic lead and the run time is barely an hour and change so it never has an opportunity to outstay its welcome.
The game does land one or two emotional blows towards the end, but getting to those moments requires a lot of walking — sometimes with only a vague idea of where you’re supposed to be going — and watching dull conversations unfold. Where the Heart Leads is too long, with huge stretches that give you little to do, and in the end you might be questioning whether it was all worth it. That’s life.
There's monsters, too, but these encounters are somehow annoying and tedious at the same time. You don't really battle with the denizens of evil so much as complete mini-games, such as depressing the triggers in time with your breathing, to avoid being murdered by ghosts. The problem is, once you've done this once, it never really changes and it's never particularly challenging, so any time a baddie turns up it's just irritating.
Ultimately, how much you enjoy I Saw Black Clouds is going to hinge on your appreciation level for schlocky horror and low-budget psychological thrillers. It's an amusing enough diversion, but the story may leave you unsatisfied depending on your route through the game, and there's nothing here that you haven't already seen in a dozen straight to DVD clangers starring Stephen Baldwin or Tara Reid.
If all you want is a facsimile of Crazy Taxi that you can play without dusting off your old Dreamcast then Taxi Chaos just about fits the bill. But that's all it does. For anybody coming into this without the benefits of nostalgia or more money than sense, Taxi Chaos is just a dull arcade driver with precious little to offer other than the dubious pleasure of chasing a high score. Send this one to scrap yard.
Oh dear. Empire of Sin has a fantastic idea at its core, and the jolly soundtrack perfectly complements the over the top character designs. But the game is a technical mess, littered with a spectacular array of bugs, and crippled by poor design choices that derail whatever little momentum the game may otherwise have had. Empire of Sin? They should have called it Buggy Malone.
Katamari Damacy Reroll is a faithful if unadventurous remake of a PlayStation 2 classic that should probably be experienced by every gamer at least once. The unique presentation and anarchic sense of humour stand the test of time, and the satisfying gameplay loop makes high score chasing a treat. It's a game in which you can roll over old women with a massive sticky ball and honestly you just can't say that about most games.
We played it three times over a couple of bottles of wine, cringing together, laughing at the awkward conversations, and rolling our eyes in unison when one girl announced she was "an influencer". So if you've got a big bottle of claret and someone to play this with we'd recommend it. If you're on your own and after a romantic comedy, we'd probably go for The Wedding Singer.
Each chapter of Stories Untold is framed like an episode of a Twilight Zone-style anthology television show, replete with a killer John Carpenter-esque synth-backed intro. It pays more than a passing nod to the introduction to hit show Stranger Things, but it's undeniably cool, and we'd love to see an Untold Stories 2 that continued the theme, only with a more consistent episode quality.
Gameplay-wise, as an employee of Cloudpunk you're expected to deliver packages around Nivalis, sometimes within a time limit. You'll do this by piloting your HOVA — a flying car that you can customise — around the city, keeping an eye on both how much gas you've got left and whether your vehicle needs any repairs. It's simple and straight-forward, and it amuses just enough to keep Cloudpunk from dragging during it's nigh 10-hour running time.
WWE 2K Battlegrounds is a game that seems like it exists purely to house its storefront, offering predatory microtransactions which would be overly pricy in a free-to-play game. In a paid title - even a budget one - they're offensive. The only silver lining here is that the game is rubbish anyway, so feel free to skip it without feeling like you're missing out.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions is a bit like when you fancy watching a game of footy but there's only the Scottish league on the telly. Sure, it looks like football to the untrained eye, and yes, occasionally it's entertaining just like real football, but you're mainly there hoping that someone is going to get chinned.
Peaky Blinders: Mastermind is a strategy game that requires very little strategy for much of its short running time. While it does eventually present a little more challenge in the closing chapters, the hum-drum narrative and bargain-basement cut-scenes won't provide you with much incentive to persevere through the duller moments which make up most of the game. If you're a massive fan of the show waiting for the next season, then you're probably better off just forming your own gang while talking in a comedy Brummie accent.
While they share plenty of the same DNA, Othercide is much more than simply XCOM in eyeliner. Sacrificing warriors to boost the stats of other units proves a compelling and flexible mechanic, while the combat encounters ramp up in difficulty at mostly the right pace. A stunning aesthetic and perfectly complementary soundtrack are the icing on the cake, only occasionally marred by unfortunate technical difficulties.
Huntdown is an ode to the gloriously violent and ridiculous action movies of the 80s, revelling in cheesy one-liners, larger than life characters, and wanton bloodshed. It's challenging but largely fair, with some thrilling boss encounters that require a variety of tactics to bring to justice.
Pillars of Eternity II is a 9/10 RPG tragically trapped inside a 7/10 game. The quality of the writing and the world-building is second to none, and the tried and tested combat mechanics are meticulously tuned, but the outrageous loading times and other technical issues are too upsetting to ignore. It's like sitting in a fine Italian restaurant, sipping a glass of wine and nibbling on breadsticks, enjoying your date, and then the waiter comes over and drops a dead dog on the table. Wrong table, mate. I ordered the carbonara. Now get that dead dog out of my sight.